A Thoroughly Entertaining Experience that won’t Cost and Arm and a Leg
Let us be frank, 2020 has been a year we all want to just survive and forget. Even the things that should get us through the horrible times have been messed with as game after game gets delayed. Luckily, we have the plucky indie developer to save us with some off the wall humour, fun puzzles and light platforming all at a reasonable cost.
You Can Go a Viking, I am Going to Hide
The premise is simple, Bjorn is a fourteen-year-old Viking who does not believe in the Viking ways of drinking, fighting, and dying in battle to earn a seat in Valhalla. So when some giants decide to help the poor Vikings meet Odin’s challenge to die in battle, Bjorn finds himself in the unenviable position of having to watch as every person in the village takes up arms in the hope of a glorious death while he just runs off into the woods to find a safe hiding spot. How very Rincewind. Unfortunately for Bjorn, falling out of a tree from a great height and landing on a bear just standing around listening to his Walkman and not bothering anyone, results in Odin decreeing that Bjorn was a great warrior for slaying the bear with his bare hands and thus earning a seat in Valhalla.
Fast forward a couple of centuries to the present day and undead errand person Pesto needs a Viking who can read runes to open the gate to Helheim. They raise Bjorn, freeing him from his personal hell of Viking heaven and so you become the assistant to the errand person while trying to earn your place in Helheim to escape the bro-like Odin and his never-ending Call of Duty analogue LAN Party.
Just ‘cause You’re Dead Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Laugh
Helheim Hassle is first and foremost a comedy. From Bjorn’s accidental demise, to the renovations being carried out on Helheim to the newer interpretations of characters from Norse mythology, the game aims to tickle your funny bone. It’s a welcome change to what has now become the trendy game setting of Nordic myth as you meet a gym and hair metal-bro Baldur the Beautiful to put upon goblin puzzle makers and other known and recognisable characters.
The humour and writing remind me of the good old LucasArts adventure games from the ‘90s that were filled with absurdist humour. If you get Monkey Island or even Maniac Mansion vibes from this game, I do not think it was unintentional.
The humour carried me through a lot of this game as I just wanted to see what insane interpretation the writers have come up with to surprise me. Fafnir’s gold chain bedecked bully was particularly memorable and the puzzle that involves him, your leg and his uvula was particularly gross and funny.
Simply put we all need a laugh today and Helheim Hassle delivers.
Don’t Lose Your Head, The Puzzles Aren’t Tough
Unlike the LucasArts games the puzzles are not particularly obtuse or difficult. Combining light platforming with various levers, obstacles and gates blocking progress the game is a pleasantly relaxing way to spend an afternoon with your controller and an undead Viking coward.
As Pesto’s assistant, you do all the grunt work, Pesto somehow teleports to the end of the level each time raising the question of why you must go through all this hassle. Be that as it may, by quirk of Bjorn’s resurrection he can literally fall to pieces and detach his head, arm and legs and then control each part of his body to solve the puzzles. If you need to jump higher to reach a ledge, throw you head up onto the ledge and now with less weight your body can reach it with a single jump. Need to get through a small space and then talk to someone on a high ledge. Detach an arm and your head, merge the two like something out of John Carpenter’s Thing send the abomination through the space and toss the head up to the creature you need to talk to. Simple.
The puzzles are not at all taxing, just be a little observant and understand how your parts work together and you will be on your way in no time. Whenever I was stuck for more than a couple of minutes it was because I didn’t pay attention to what was being said to Bjorn by the NPCs or I was just not paying attention to my abilities with each limb.
While the easier puzzles are welcome, they can wear thin, when something is too easy it becomes boring, luckily the developers recognised this and put in a couple of harder puzzles that test your timing, dexterity and attention to detail under pressure. One such puzzle had a Grim Reaper that reminded me of the Death of Rats, just larger, chasing me while I had to figure out which body part to throw through opening to unlock gates. It frustrated me as the difficulty spike was sudden and miserly save point system meant starting at the beginning when caught. Luckily these are few and far between and spaced out to when the game requires it to alleviate on setting boredom.
Simple 2D Platforming
Helheim Hassle is a simple game and the graphics are suitably simple, yet colourful and vibrant. You control Bjorn and his limbs on left to right 2D play area with some verticality in climbing and jumping onto platforms. You never have that feeling that you must backtrack, but the handy fast travel system makes that a breeze as some side quests require you to go back to complete. The side quests are not complicated, they are basically simple fetch quests that are easy to suss out.
As stated, the art style is simple and not heavily stylised as something unique to this game. I swear I have seen the design for Baldur and the goblins in South Park, but they are just much more animated than those models. The colour palette for a game set in Nordic hell is wide and pleasant. You don’t just have “angry” reds or muted shades of black to denote evil. Helheim looks just like Earth, but with mythological creatures and a hero who falls apart at every obstacle.
Just Go To Hell!
Helheim Hassle is a wonderful puzzle game that will not tax your brain and frustrate you to the point where you must either shut it off or search for a guide. The humour propels the player forward on his quest to be freed from the burden of paradise and your encounters with these Viking legends will leave you with a smile and fond memories of your visit to Hel(heim).
Reviewed on Xbox One X. Available on Switch and Steam.
Written by one of our amazing freelance team Lynley James
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Helheim Hassle is a narrative adventure game with puzzle platforming elements. Play as Bjørn, a pacifist Viking that can detach and combine limbs at will to solve challenging puzzles and get out of uncomfortable situations involving desperate Norse Gods, Goblins, Dragons, and angry skeletons
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 15.09
Product In Stock: SoldOut